Tested by loss, finding the will to win featuring Karen Coyne
For Karen Coyne, there is always an opportunity to learn and grow, even in the darkest times. These profound challenges, as she knows from personal experience, can offer clarity of purpose and a reason to strive for success. In her professional life, that recognition has enabled her to seize opportunities and not fear failure because she knows she possesses the resilience to overcome challenges.
Karen was just 15-years-old when her father passed away, and life changed forever from that moment on. She saw the struggle her mother faced in her new role as a single parent and as the family’s sole provider—an especially difficult position since she had no previous work experience—and decided then that she would have to develop resilience. “I knew at that moment we could never look back,” she says somberly. “We have to move forward.”
Karen hasn’t gotten over the death of her father, but she has gotten out from under it. Getting on track and moving forward did not come easy, however. Karen took everything one day at a time. But she benefitted from being honest with herself about her situation. This focused perspective allowed her to confront hurdles head on.
Her advice to others looking to build resilience is, “Don’t be afraid to fail!” She recounts an experience she had while learning to ski, and someone in her lesson expressed glee at never having fallen. Karen was nonplussed because, in her view, not falling was a sign of not trying hard enough. “As women, we are naturally wired to play it safe…I’d love to see more women…go for it.”
Don’t be afraid to fail!
Karen is circumspect about her own success, insisting that she hasn’t reached a point where she can say her work is done, or that she’s accomplished everything she wants. Appropriately, one of the most important lessons she’s learned relates to the definition of success, and the many different ways to interpret a career zenith.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you determine what’s important, and that’s what makes you successful,” she says. She points out that as a child of the 80s, there was a narrow definition and specific look of success. Today, success might mean working part-time and spending time with one’s children. In fact, she says it’s critical not to fall victim to stereotypes of success.
You determine what’s important, and that’s what makes you successful.
To women just beginning their careers, she also highly recommends finding a niche in what she calls a “sea of sameness.” Women have so much to bring to the table in terms of worldview, experiences and perspective. It’s crucial to build on those attributes by finding ways to stand out. “I wish someone would have told me that at the beginning of my career,” she laments.
Karen is eager to help women in the industry escape some of the hurdles she faced. One way she is doing that is by sharing the story of her personal and professional journey. She wants women to know the path to financial advice has many inlets. One needn’t have majored in economics to make it in the business. Another way she’s helping women advisors is by encouraging them to network, and, more specifically, to attend the Raymond James National Conference and Women’s Symposium. Networking “is how [you] learn,” she says.
Karen is clear on her plans for the future, which entail spending more time with clients and prospects. She wants to sharpen her focus on building relationships, understanding that they are the drivers of growth. True to form, Karen has already defined success for the next year.
Q+A with Karen
What is your name?
What is your hometown?
“I grew up outside Chicago, Illinois.”
What is your LinkedIn profile?
How long have you been in the financial services industry?
What’s your theme song?
- “Female” by Keith Urban
- “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison
- “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross
What or who inspires you?
“I find inspiration everywhere!”
What are two philanthropies close to your heart?
“The Community Foundation of Washington County, Md. and The Women’s Giving Circle.”
Follow along on social media with #RJWomen.